4 Factors That Drive Down Profit for Commercial Greenhouses

Even in the best of seasons, profit margins may be slim for commercial greenhouses. Agriculture has never been a get-rich-quick venture; it takes patience and perseverance to come out ahead.

Even in the best of seasons, profit margins may be slim for commercial greenhouses. Agriculture has never been a get-rich-quick venture; it takes patience and perseverance to come out ahead.

Commercial growers know that a range of variables can chip away at the bottom line. It’s worth taking a deep dive to explore the factors that drive down profitability for commercial greenhouses, as well as considering what cutting-edge technological remedies can help growers to operate cost effectively.

Crop Loss

Greenhouse growers are susceptible to all the same hazards as the farmer in the field. Disease and infestation are ongoing risks, especially in the absence of adequate monitoring and controlling efforts.

Crop loss diminishes yields and takes a direct hit against the bottom line. Manual methods of nutrient mixing, watering, monitoring, and so on all heighten the likelihood of crop loss. Growers who do not take proactive steps to manage the variables are always more likely to encounter detrimental circumstances, whether in the form of mold, pests, or other unknowns that can reduce overall yield.

Manual Management

A greenhouse that runs on manual management strategies will never be as efficient or as profitable as one that takes advantage of modern automation.

This is demonstrated in the simplest of ways. Growers who fail to turn off the lights when the sun is shining are literally burning through profits. When nutrients are mixed in unnecessarily large batches, waste is the inevitable outcome.

Watering by Estimate

Watering by eye often leads to doling out too much or too little; it is an inefficient use of resources, and leads to less than optimal crop yields. Manual means of watering are also problematic since they limit the grower’s flexibility. Tackle watering by hand and you are bound to be available on a fairly fixed schedule.

As with all the profit-killers named above, there are technological fixes available to make watering more efficient, freeing up the grower’s time and ultimately improving profitability.

Neglecting Analytics

Greenhouses may never know how much money they are losing if they do not implement an analytics platform. For the modern grower, analytics are at the heart of the effort to drive profitability. Charts, graphs, reports, and comparative metrics all help paint the picture of what is working and what can be improved upon.

By operating on intuition or relying on outdated spreadsheets to approximate their operations, growers erode their profitability. Manual methods can give a pretty good approximation, but with the breadth and complexity of the variables inherent in the growing process, modern analytics are required for a greenhouse operation to maximize its earnings potential.

The Modern Solution

Greenhouse operators can overcome these diverse challenges and maximize profitability with a contemporary platform solution that combines hardware and software assets.

The best solutions merge wireless monitoring and management in an app-driven environment, giving growers remote control over all aspects of their operation.

Wireless systems can be scaled to fit any size operation, from a single room to a more complex growing environment. Sophisticated rules engines can control external hardware based on timers, schedules, or sensor readings that may detect such variables as air temperature, humidity, CO2, vapor pressure, barometric pressure, and light.

Hardware such as heaters, lights, and dehumidifiers can be controlled remotely based on set instructions, sensor readings, or operator intervention. Sophisticated irrigation solutions can respond to built-in modeling of water demand, including light accumulation, evapotranspiration, leachate volumes, and EC measurement. They may be calibrated for the specific needs of mineral soils, potting soils, rockwool, and perlite.

Likewise, specialized nutrient dosing hardware can be implemented for precision nutrient, additives, and pH administration.

Analytics tie it all together, delivering exportable data, charts, and other key metrics to show at a granular level the precise outcomes of all these combined efforts. Growers can use this data to fine-tune operations and maximize their return on investment.

In our digital age, manual greenhouse management is an ineffective means of doing business, taking its toll on the bottom line through crop loss, water and nutrient waste, and diverse other excesses. With a solid hardware infrastructure, smart software, and meaningful analytics, growers can keep profit loss in check and derive the maximum payback for their efforts.

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